Baltic ministers call for new defense plan at upcoming NATO summit

Estonia and NATO flags.
Estonia and NATO flags. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Defense ministers from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on Wednesday said they expect a new defense plan for the region at the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius. Better allied air defenses are also sought.

Ministers Hanno Pevkur (Reform), Inara Murniece and Arvydas Anušauskas met in Tallinn to discuss regional security, priorities for Vilnius, joint capability development and military support for Ukraine.

The target for this summer's summit includes further strengthening NATO's defense and deterrence posture on the eastern flank, they said. The decisions made last year in Madrid must also be carried out.

More investment is needed to match today's security situation and the alliance should agree on a more ambitious investment commitment, the ministers agreed.

Estonia's Pevkur said: "The NATO Summit in Vilnius this summer must be where new Baltic defense plans are approved and NATO's presence in the Baltic States is further strengthened.

Inara Murniece, Hanno Pevkur, and Arvydas Anušauskas in Tallinn on January 11, 2023. Source: Ministry of Defense.

"The common wish of the Baltic States is to involve our Allies in strengthening our air defenses. We have taken the necessary steps to ensure that we have our own air defense, but until it has arrived, we want to find a solution in cooperation with our Allies."

The minister said the countries also need to show they are taking the initiative to strengthen their own defenses.

"We must also lead by example, which is why joint action in the procurement of HIMARS, medium-range air defence and military vehicles is a good example of how to use taxpayers' money more efficiently to ensure greater security for the entire region," he added.

All three countries continue to help Ukraine, Pevkur pointed out, and are actively engaged in the training of the Ukrainian defense forces and sending additional military aid.

The NATO summit will take place in Lithuania's capital on July 11-12.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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